The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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Laying in the dark, surrounded by those she loved, Berry Punch was unable to sleep. This was only the second night with Bucky gone and already the worry had become almost unbearable. Rubbing her stomach, she squirmed, trying to get comfortable, but there was no comfort. There was no position on the bed that brought relief. She rolled over and grabbed Lyra, but substituting one unicorn for another was not the same. Deep in sleep, Lyra snorted and cuddled up against Berry, causing Berry to feel a little better.

The bed was missing two creatures that Berry realised that she loved a great deal.

Much to Berry’s dismay, she realised that she was not the only one awake. Inside of her stomach, the twins began their nighttime brawl. Berry Punch sighed, struggling to breathe as she lay on her side, and wished that the twins would just cut it out. These were only the beginning of the sleepless nights, and Berry Punch knew that there would be many nights ahead.

 

 

“Keep your focus, Sentinel,” Luna said, offering patient, gentle instruction. “You are one of the very precious few that can raise an umbral shield. This is a rare defensive magic for your kind.” Reaching out, Luna tapped upon the black sphere that was around Sentinel’s body.

There was a frustrated grunt as the shield died and Luna felt bad for Sentinel as he slumped in defeat. He had kept the shield up for over five minutes, a new record for him. Sentinel had all of the makings of a powerful umbramancer, a rarity among his kind, with brute force being the typical approach to everything.

“Take a break and have a little rest. Do you have any questions?” Luna asked.

“I do,” Sentinel replied as he rubbed his head. “What is it like for you being inside of the mind of more than one dreamer? I get overwhelmed being inside of just one pony’s head.”

Pausing, Luna took a moment to think about the best way to answer. “Your kind can only be inside of one dreamer at a time… during my long absence, there were many dreamers but very few lunar pegasi to help my sister. The dream realm was not patrolled. I can exist inside the dreams of many at once, but even my power is limited. With each dream I enter, my power gets weaker and weaker, so there are only so many minds I can enter and maintain my will. My powers were exceptional a thousand years ago, there were only a few thousand ponies in Equestria and I could keep an eye upon all of them, more or less. Now, there are millions, and I am overwhelmed. I cannot keep up with all of them. Even among your kind, the gift is rare, exceptional… there is no longer any way I can do this on my own.”

Closing his eyes, Sentinel nodded. “That is why there are breeding programs for us lunar pegasi. It is the reason why it is so important for Moonbow and I to have foals. I am gifted and our foals might also have my gifts.” Sentinel opened his eyes and looked at Luna. “I still don’t understand how you can do it.”

“I will admit, it can be very difficult at times,” Luna replied, turning away from Sentinel and looking skywards, looking through the glass dome over Bucky’s office at the stars up above her. “Back when my powers were at their peak, I never imagined that there would be so many ponies. My sister had to be very inventive to get so many ponies to live together in a city and not have total anarchy. She did very well, all things considered. There were some failures, and of course there was the collapse… it is a real challenge now. The dream realm is where the battle for the hearts, minds is fought and souls of our subjects are kept safe. There are many foul influences which prey upon the dreams of dreamers, corrupting their thoughts, filling them with hate, perverting them, twisting them, robbing them of their potential for greatness. During my long absence, Celestia had to prioritise. After what happened with Sunset Shimmer, she had the dreams of Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor monitored, to make certain that no dark influence crept in and undid what she felt were her best hopes for the future. She could have had her enemies watched, but my sister is an optimist. She chose to guard her hopes and dreams for the future, even though she knew there was some serious decay in the empire.”

“You seem focused on your sister,” Sentinel said, giving Luna a reassuring nudge.

“I am,” Luna replied, her gaze dropping from the stars to look once more at Sentinel. “I have been going through a great deal of changes Sentinel… and I have come to understand and appreciate the enormity of my sister’s task. What she had to endure to allow Equestria to survive. Near the end, just before my return, she was so burned out and hurt. I do not know how she managed to function, but she is a much stronger pony than I am.”

Sentinel nodded. “I have wondered the same thing about my father.”

“Your father, my sister, Twilight Sparkle, all of them indomitable wills. Your father’s sense of duty and devotion, my sister and her sense of goodness and what is right, and Twilight Sparkle in the defense of those she calls friends.” Luna shook her head as it dropped lower. “I am not among their number. I am mercurial, my moods are fickle, I have come to realise, I am not their equal.”

“It’s not so bad, Luna. We all have our faults,” Sentinel said, feeling bad for Luna and not knowing what to say.

“I have actually considered abdicating the throne and allowing my sister to rule as the sole monarch,” Luna confessed as she stared at the floor. “She is a far better ruler than I am or will ever be. I am good at war. I am good at destruction. I am good at raining down ruination upon mine enemies. My efforts would be better spent serving as my sister’s protector and doing what must be done to defend our empire.”

Shaking his head, Sentinel’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t say that, now is not the time for self doubt—”

“Sentinel, this is not about self doubt, this is admitting that I am a deeply flawed individual and that I have characteristics that are detrimental to both myself and my ability to act as a responsible ruler. I have been using this time I have had to myself to give all of this some serious thought.” Luna lifted her gaze and looked Sentinel in the eye. “Sentinel, this is all about self sacrifice. I am a very selfish pony. I stumbled and fell because of my own selfish desires. That is part of what makes Celestia a good pony, or your father, or Twilight Sparkle. They are not selfish ponies… they are selfless, and sometimes foolishly so. Laughably so. The fact that I have sometimes mocked their selflessness is evidence that I am not suitable for my role as a princess.”

“I think you are being too hard upon yourself,” Sentinel said, his nostrils flaring, not at all liking what he was hearing from Luna. It upset him, shook him, and disturbed him to the very core of his being.

“And I think it is time for both of us to go to bed.” Luna’s sad eyes glanced upwards at the stars once more. “You have school tomorrow. I have many things I must do as well. Come, Sentinel, escort me back to the house.”

 

 

Something patted Dinky upon her face, causing her to wake. She peered ahead in the darkness, the dim light of the nightlight on the other side of the room providing just enough illumination for her to make out Sukari’s face peering at her over the edge of the bed.

“What’s wrong?” Dinky asked in a raspy, sleepy voice.

“Bad dream,” Sukari replied.

“Bad dream?”

“Bad dream.”

The zebra filly did not seem to want to elaborate further and Dinky wasn’t certain what to do. All she knew was that Sukari had come to her for comfort, and Dinky was determined not to let her sister down. “Is there something that you want?”

Sukari nodded but did not say anything to Dinky, but continued to stare.

“If you want something, you have to tell me,” Dinky said in a gentle voice. Trying to coax anything out of Sukari was frustrating at times, and the zebra was very sensitive to the moods of others. If she sensed frustration, Dinky knew that Sukari would just walk away and suffer in silence, something that Dinky did not want.

“Thirsty.” Sukari came a little closer to Dinky’s bed and rested her head upon the mattress. “Hungry too.”

“Okay,” Dinky replied. She yawned and then wiggled out of the bed. Once she was on her hooves, she gave Sukari a reassuring pat. “Let’s go down to the kitchen and I’ll see what I can do.”

 

 

The clock upon the kitchen wall said that it was three thirty four in the morning. Dinky yawned once more, whining a bit as she did so, and headed for the fridge, with Sukari walking right beside her.

Reaching the fridge, Dinky pulled the door open and began to look around. There was a half of sweet potato pie still left in the fridge. Drool flooded Dinky’s mouth. Sweet potatoes. Her favourite food. And she knew that Sukari liked them too. She grabbed the pie and the crockery full of milk in her telekinesis. She turned around, closed the refrigerator door with her telekinesis, and then made her way to the table.

She placed the pie and the crockery upon the table, went to the silverware drawer, fetched a butter knife along with two spoons, and then fetched two small plates out of the dish hutch. Holding everything above her head in a telekinetic field, dinky returned back to the table, Sukari never once leaving her side.

With a bit of effort, Dinky helped Sukari climb up into a chair and then Dinky sat down beside her sister. Using the butter knife, she cut the half of sweet potato pie in half, licked her lips, sucked up a bit of drool that almost escaped, and then plopped half of the remaining pie upon a plate. She slid the plate to Sukari and then plopped out the other half onto a plate for herself.

“I forgot the glasses, no, hang on, don’t get up,” Dinky said as her horn glowed with a fierce intensity. Some distance away, the cupboard opened and Dinky got out two old jelly jars that everypony liked to use for drinking. One had a strawberry etched on the side, the other had a jalapeño. “Which one do you want?”

“Red berry,” Sukari replied.

Nodding, Dinky set down the strawberry jar in front of Sukari and the jalapeño jar in front of herself. She lifted the heavy crockery and poured some milk into each jar. She looked at Sukari. “There… now we can pig out on pie.”

“Oink?” Sukari asked in a very serious manner.

“Yes, oink,” Dinky replied.

Sukari lifted her jam jar between her front hooves, took a long drink, staining her upper lip white, and then set her jar down. Ignoring her silverware, Sukari lowered her head and began gobbling down her pie.

After having a look around, Dinky did the same, jamming her muzzle down into her food and savaging the enormous wedge of pie. With a mouth full of pie, Dinky oinked, making snorting sounds as she chewed.

Looking from her plate, Sukari looked confused for a moment, then oinked herself, mimicking the sound that Dinky had made. She chewed for a bit longer and then swallowed.

Much to Dinky’s surprise, Sukari smiled. It wasn’t something she saw very often. Then there was a soft snuffling sound, then a raspy sound, and then, Dinky realised that Sukari was laughing. It was a soft sound with almost no volume. Sitting in stunned awe, Dinky listened to Sukari laughing, knowing that Sukari seldom laughed. The foal was too timid about making sounds and it was rare for her to make any unnecessary noise.

“Oink,” Dinky said and then made a few more piggy snorts as she stuffed her face down into her pie. Dinky heard another snort from Sukari in reply.

“I hear piggies in my kitchen!” Berry Punch said as she came around the corner and into the kitchen, a smile upon her face. She paused, almost laughing, and then a disappointed, almost pouty expression crept over her face. “You little piggies ate all of the pie…”

 

 

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